This Is the Power of Letting Yourself Suck At Things

In fact, it should be encouraged.

 Image by Simon Potter/ Getty Images

By Meredith Lepore

There is a real power in letting yourself suck. Think about those words. It’s hard in this society that worships and promotes fake perfectionism but Maxie McCoy, career expert and author of the new book You’re Not Lost, says letting yourself do things you absolutely know you are going to fail at is the only way to find your career path. But once you let yourself do that, there will be so much freedom.

“We have to believe we can get better at things. If our skills are static then the only thing that can happen is a potential loss, but if we let ourselves suck at things it will energize us in a new way,” she told Ladders. “What energizes us isn’t aways going to be stuff we’re good at. If we’re stuck in this perfectionist mindset, we’re never going to get there. You will never step into the unknown and stepping into your path requires doing the unknown. There’s a lot of freedom in knowing I can get better at things!”

McCoy recalls trying surfing a few years back and being so energized by abandoning the thought that she should be able to do this perfectly right at the start was quite invigorating. She pointed to acclaimed director Ava Duvernay not even picking up a camera until age 33 and also sucking at first. But eventually she got better and now she is directing blockbuster films starring Oprah and Reese Witherspoon. “She sucked and look at where she got. If you’re not willing to suck you’re not gonna get anywhere,” said McCoy.

But you do have to have the confidence that you will come out the other end no matter how many times you fall down. That’s really the foundation of You’re Not Lost, says McCoy. She emphasizes to readers that they should not focus on the big picture. “You don’t reach your goal by deciding what the exact destination will be, you find the direction,” she told Ladders. “You don’t have to have it all figured it out. You just have to tap into the belief in yourself. That will keep creating the path.” And one of the ways to do this is to find one thing, even if it is very small, that will energize you and most likely that means something you aren’t perfect at already.

Here is an excerpt from You’re Not Lost all about embracing the fear.

Mistakes baby, mistakes

No doubt, you’re gonna screw up. It’s a by-product of taking action which is required to build your confidence. Trust me when I say, there will be plenty of missteps.

You might accidentally send out a test email to your entire subscriber list, announcing the launch of your business that isn’t launched yet. (Me.)

You might have to redo deliverables because you didn’t full read the terms of a contract. (Me.)

You might plan a major press event at an all-women’s club and realize only hours before it’s supposed to begin that they key people coming are men and not allowed in. (Unfortunately, me.)

You’ll spell things wrong. You’ll quote things wrong. You’ll say things wrong. You’ll do things completely wrong. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll say things you didn’t mean. You’ll overreact.

But those mistakes aren’t signs you shouldn’t be doing this. Not at all. These mistakes are signs that you’re trying and learning and growing. All mistakes are practice. The forced errors are signs of effort. Whether they were small ones, major ones, or deal-breaker ones, they’ll keep happening to teach you something. Your fear will make them seem way bigger than they are. But the truth of a mistake is that you were trying and your resilience will bring you back from al the shit feelings to keep you keeping on.

Remember, there’s no way to learn what you’re capable of unless you’re testing your limits and making mistakes.

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